WAS IT REALLY 50 YEARS AGO?
February 7, 2014
"We were four guys...I met Paul, I said do you wanna' join the band, ya' know? Then George joined, then Ringo joined ... we were just a band that made it very, very big, that's all."
-- John Lennon
It was 50 years ago, but they've been with us ever since.
I wrote most of the following on the occasion of The Beatles 40th anniversary of landing on our shores, but I've updated it for this issue.
On February 9th, 1964, Ed Sullivan famously intoned, "Tonight, the whole country is waiting to hear England's Beatles."
That first appearance on 'The Ed Sullivan Show,' was watched by an estimated 74 million people, making it one of the biggest events in broadcast history. Today, only Super Bowl ratings come close to that number.
Eight months later, the band had landed 28 records on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart (11 in the Top 10), seen several albums released worldwide, and a short time later were introduced to marijuana by Bob Dylan. The band's voyage from Liverpool to New York City in '64 was filled with far more apprehension and stress than relaxation and glee despite the Beatlemania occurring here, and all of the Beatles talked about it later on.
But the assault on American radio and charts was overwhelming.
In the past few decades you've all read about the chart accomplishments of such artists as Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Rihanna, and others. But they all pale in comparison to this statistic:
For the week ending April 4th, 1964 The Beatles had 11 singles on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 chart, including the first top five slots:
* #1* - Can't Buy Me Love
* #2* - Twist and Shout
* #3* - She Loves You
* #4* - I Want To Hold Your Hand
* #5* - Please, Please Me
* #31* - I Saw Her Standing There
* #41* - From Me To You
* #46* - Do You Want To Know A Secret
* #58* - All My Loving
* #65* - You Can't Do That
* #79* - Thank You Girl
Of course if you're old enough to remember listening to your favorite radio station back then, you remember hearing all these songs and more as the "British Invasion" started. It's impossible to imagine any artist or band being able to monopolize the charts and radio in such fashion today, and I don't think we will ever see it happen like that again. It was a different time.
Just how much The Beatles changed everything in pop culture has been the subject of many books, TV specials, documentaries, articles in the media, and much more. Now they teach courses on The Beatles in many colleges.
Prior to The Beatles, Top 40 radio didn't play album cuts from best-selling artists. Not even Elvis at his height. When The Beatles released 'Rubber Soul' and made the decision there would be no single released from the album for radio or retail (much to Capitol's dismay originally), radio programmers simply put "Michelle" on their stations along with "I'm Looking Through You," and about other tracks from the album. The Beatles ruled at retail and requests, so radio had to respond.
The fact is, nobody had ever achieved that kind of airplay -- album tracks at Top 40 radio previously. The Beatles were the first.
Of course 'Rubber Soul' wasn't the only album they released without a single for radio/retail. 'Sgt. Pepper' (the first rock "concept" album) didn't have a single, and neither did their double-album, 'The White Album.' But it made no difference; they were all over Top 40 radio. Of course, the release of 'Sgt. Pepper' (and subsequent concept albums by the Stones, Who, etc.) gave birth to the notion the radio audience might want to hear more than just singles -- and "progressive radio" (the forerunner of all album radio that followed) was born when they started playing nothing but music from albums.
Before The Beatles, there was no such thing as "stadium rock." Nobody had ever played arenas or stadiums before 1964. But The Beatles sold out Shea Stadium, Candlestick Park and other stadiums in the country in mere hours after tickets went on sale, shocking those in the press and media who predicted the shows by the group ("a fad" as they were called back then) wouldn't sell in those quantities. I saw them at Carnegie Hall, Forest Hills, and at both Shea concerts. The word mania doesn't begin to describe what occurred the minute The Beatles took the stage.
Long before MTV hit the air, The Beatles made a TV film called 'Magical Mystery Tour.' Though critics in the U.K.panned it for the most part, in hindsight one can watch it and realize it was merely a long-form video with five separate concept videos to support The Beatles' new songs. People who now watch the newly remastered 'Magical Mystery Tour' video on DVD realize just how many years ahead of the curve The Beatles were in realizing how music and video could be merged for greater audience.
Another amazing fact: 'Sgt. Pepper' was recorded in four-track. Yup, that's right. Four-track. Listen to it today and you realize what a true engineering masterpiece it is, and how many tracks had to be mixed down, and on top of each other, to make the final recording. Albums made later used dozens more tracks and had the availability of updated technology. But sonically, 'Sgt.Pepper' remains an engineering masterpiece.
I could go on and on, I've been a big Beatles fan for these past 50 years. I never imagined that night as I watched them on the Ed Sullivan show, that within five years I'd be lucky enough to get a job working for Capitol Records, selling Beatles records, and then promoting them to the very radio stations I grew up listening to.
When I worked for Capitol Records in 1970 and 1971 in New York City I was fortunate enough to meet John Lennon. The first time I talked to him I got "mealy mouth," was nervous, and he asked me what was wrong. I mumbled and then said, "I ... I watched you on Ed Sullivan ..." And he said, "Ah ... well, that was The Beatles thing and all that ... I'm just John now ... so tell me what kind of music do you like?" We talked until the wee hours of the morning and I walked back to my apartment on a cold December morning with my mind racing. (You can read an article on my recalling meeting John here.)
The Beatles created the soundtrack for our lives back in the '60s and each song they sang made us feel like the wait wasn't going to be too long, and that sooner rather than later, we'd all be on our way to better lives.
Maybe that's been only partly true, but it's what we all wanted to believe because their music made us feel such things. So we sang their songs loud, proud to claim them as "our own." But we should've known they belonged to the whole world and that the world we lived in was moving away from innocence.
John was right ... they were a "band that made it very, very big."
They were all that and a whole lot more. A helluva lot more.
Last week I mentioned 'A Grammy Salute To The Beatles: The Night That Changed America' will be aired on CBS this Sunday Feb. 9th — the actual day of the Beatles historic performance on the Ed Sullivan Show a half-century ago.
The incredible list of musicians and artists who joined Paul and Ringo on stage included Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry, John Mayer, Alicia Keys, Dhani Harrison performing alongside Joe Walsh and Jeff Lynne, Pharrell Williams singing (with a performance by the cast of The Beatles LOVE show), Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart reunited as Eurythmics, Sean Penn, Kate Beckinsale and Johnny Depp, L L Cool J, Monty Python's Eric Idle, Ed Sheeran, Dave Grohl and Maroon 5.
The two-hour show was taped on Monday, Jan. 27th, the day after the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, and will be broadcast in HDTV and 5.1 surround sound on the CBS Television Network Sunday, Feb. 9th, 2014, from 8–10p ET/PT — exactly 50 years to the day, date and time of the original event.
Read more about what you will see and hear on the special
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 2
JOHN LENNON: THE BERMUDA TAPES
Random iPhone App of the week: "John Lennon: The Bermuda Tapes," an interactive album app that chronicles the former Beatle's life-changing trip to Bermuda in June 1980, has launched in the App Store.
The app features rare and previously unreleased demos, interviews with Lennon and Yoko Ono, photographs, Lennon's handwritten lyric sheets and audio recordings describing Lennon's writing process. The app costs $4.99, with net proceeds from the sales supporting WhyHunger and its "Imagine There's No Hunger" campaign. Read the whole story
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 3
FROM ROLLING STONE 'YouTube's Billion-Dollar Payout Provides New Revenue for Musicians"
"A YouTube executive's recent revelation that the company has paid more than $1 billion to the music business over the last few years was no surprise to artists who've noticed an increase in online-video money on their royalty statements. "YouTube income keeps going up. It has gone up every single accounting period," says Josh Grier, an attorney who represents Wilco, Bob Mould, Ryan Adams and others. "Those who I made deals for a few years ago, and [who] bought into the game, are getting money."
The $1 billion statement by Tom Pickett, YouTube's vice president of content, at a Midem conference panel in Cannes, Frances, speaks to the growing importance of streaming revenue in the record business." Read the article
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 4
LYOR COHEN'S NEW DEAL TO DISCOVER FUTURE MUSIC STARS
Mashable reports that Twitter and 300 Entertainment, a startup founded by former Warner Music Chief Lyor Cohen, announced a deal to analyze information through Twitter to identify music talent.
"Music is the largest topic of conversation on Twitter, so we're really invested in building a win-win environment for fans, artists, labels, promoters and music services," said Bob Moz, Twitter's Head of Music. Read More
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 5
'AMERICAN IDOL' NO LONGER THE SHOW THAT DRIVES A NETWORK
Chase Carey had a blunt message for Wall Street — "American Idol" is fading and it may never re-capture its glory days.
The 21st Century Fox chief operating officer told analysts Thursday that the decision to bring back Jennifer Lopez as a judge and add Harry Connick Jr. to the mix had resulted in a show that was "much better than it was a year ago," but one that is also showing its age. (Editor's note: Gee, what a surprise. NOT!) Read the story at TheWrap
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 6
TWITTER HAS STRONG EARNINGS, BUT USER GROWTH IS LESS THAN WHAT WALL STREET WANTS
Twitter reported exceptional revenue growth in its first earnings report as a public company, posting revenue of $243 million in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2013 -- more than double the amount during the same period a year ago. However, its user base grew just four percent over the prior quarter, prompting its stock to dip more than 15% percent immediately after the report was released.
Read the full story at TheWrap
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 7
THE DUMBEST MUSIC QUESTION OF THE WEEK?
The dumbest music question of the week has to go to the CNN piece that asks 'Is Miley Cyrus The New Madonna?'
How about asking that question AFTER Ms. Cyrus has had over 25 Top-10 records, and multiple multi-Platinum albums spread out over a few decades?
Or better yet, ask the question just a decade from now.
Better yet, don't ask the question at all.
THE 'A-SIDE' - THE BONUS TRACKS
* The Beatles' 50 Biggest Billboard Hits
* Beatles on 'Ed Sullivan': Rare Footage
* 20 Amazing Beatle Covers You've Got to Hear
* Paul McCartney's Top 10 Billboard Hits
* Ringo Starr's Top 10 Billboard Hits
* Beatles Myths And Misconceptions
* Jimi Hendrix Gets Animated
* Flashback: Bob Seger 'Turns The Page' at the Hall of Fame in 2004
* Cher Says Her Label Doesn't 'Care' About Her Latest Album
* Musicians Hall of Fame Inducts Legends (Includes photo gallery)
* 15 Outrageous Faked Performances
* 11 Greatest Moments From Howard Stern's Birthday Bash
* Bowie Plays For Howard Stern
* Prince's 'Plectrum Electum' Preview: Inside The Late-Night NYC Listening Session
* The 24 most exciting products coming soon
* Google's $35 Chromecast is about to get much better
* The future of wearables: 8 predictions from tech leaders
* What headphone buyers need to know
* E-Commerce Sites Must Think Like Amazon
* Roku 3 vs. Apple TV (3rd Gen) - Rematch
* The 100 most important gadgets now, ranked
Short News Items ...
HANKS 'SIXTIES' SERIES LOOKING GOOD:
Tom Hanks' 10-part CNN documentary 'The Sixties' doesn't start until May, but last week the network debuted the "British Invasion" episode, presumably to capitalize on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Here are a dozen highlights. Read More
CAPITOL GETS NEIL DIAMOND:
Thirty-four years after Capitol Records had the chance to get Neil Diamond for his "Jazz Singer' album (his only album with three consecutive top-10 singles, and his biggest album ever at the time selling in excess of five million), Billboard has learned the Capitol Music Group will announce it has signed legendary singer/songwriter Neil Diamond to its Capitol Records label. The deal will mark the first time Diamond's entire catalog has been under one label. The new deal is Diamond's second go-round at Universal, of which Capitol is a subsidiary, and where he was signed from the late-60s to the early-70s to its MCA label. Diamond, up until this deal, had been signed since the early-70s to Columbia and before that recorded for Bang Records from 1966-68, which was then under the Atlantic umbrella. Now, his entire back catalog will be housed under one label.
DOOKIE PLUS TWENTY:
When Green Day signed with Reprise 20 years ago, Billie Joe Armstrong thought, "Let's record this thing and make sure we have money left over, so we can pay our rent, in case anything happens." What happened was Dookie, which sold more than 16 million copies. Read More
SIMMONS ON CSI:
Gene Simmons, he will be appearing on a special edition of 'CSI.' Gene will be playing himself in a rock 'n' roll themed murder mystery, set to air on March 12th on CBS.
BEST SNL STUFF:
On the heels of Seth Meyers' 'Saturday Night Live' farewell, Rolling Stone has compiled the 50 greatest SNL sketches of all time -- not the show's most successful franchises or iconic moments, but the best individual sketches. Read More
ELTON TO ANIMATE:
Elton John's Rocket Pictures has acquired feature rights to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's global stage phenomenon "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," and is embarking on an animated family film in association with The Really Useful Group, the company announced Wednesday. Rocket Pictures CEO Steve Hamilton Shaw and David Furnish will produce the film with The Really Useful Group, while John will executive produce with Webber and Rice.
BEATLES MARKER AT JFK:
The Beatles will be honored with a historical marker this Friday at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, where the group landed 50 years ago for their first trip to the United States. The marker will be unveiled by the New York Port Authority during a ceremony at JFK's Central Terminal Area, which is also the spot where the Beatles gave their first stateside press conference.
AN 'IDOL' CONGRESSMAN?:
Clay Aiken, the North Carolina-based pop singer, actor and 'American Idol' runner-up announced his candidacy for Congress in a video posted to his campaign we site Tuesday.
STING AND SIMON:
Though Sting and Paul Simon have been friends since the '80s, when they became apartment neighbors, they had no idea how their first collaboration would go. "There was this audible gasp in the room," Sting tells Rolling Stone. It seemed right to continue. Read More
A VERY EXPENSIVE WALL INDEED:
A chunk of backdrop wall from the Ed Sullivan Theater signed by the Beatles during their famous debut on The Ed Sullivan Show will go to auction in New York City this April, the Associated Press reports. Autographed, from top to bottom, by Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Paul McCartney (referring to himself as "Uncle") and John Lennon, each Beatle accompanied their signature with a goofy doodle, while someone also scrawled "The Beatles Were Here." The 4-foot-by-2-foot plastic wall will be sold on April 26th through Dallas-based auction house Heritage Auctions and is expected to fetch between $800,000 and $1 million.
Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his apartment on Sunday. He was 46 years old. According to the New York Post, a friend of Hoffman's found the actor at his apartment in New York City's Greenwich Village at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. Police reportedly told the Post that Hoffman, who had been open in the past about his struggles with substance abuse, had died of an apparent drug overdose. Hoffman won an Academy Award in 2005 for his title role in the film Capote. He most recently appeared in Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
In Philip Seymour Hoffman's hands, the role of rock critic Lester Bangs in Almost Famous "became the soul of the movie," said director Cameron Crowe in tribute to the late actor, who died Sunday. "I will always be grateful for that front-row seat to his genius." Read More
Anna Gordy Gaye, the ex-wife of late soul legend Marvin Gaye and the older sister of Motown record label founder Berry Gordy Jr., died in Los Angeles last Friday at the age of 92, the family publicist said. "She died today at her Los Angeles home. She passed away from natural causes. They discovered her body at 3a," said Maureen O'Connor, executive vice president of publicists Rogers & Cowan.
Quotes of the week
THE STUPID QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Now that liberals have forwarded their agenda by inserting a mass gay wedding into the Grammys, conservatives must match them tit-for-tat by having a mass shooting at the Country Music Awards,"
-- Bill Maher, last Friday during his HBO program. (NOT funny Bill. Not one bit)
"I'm assuming Joe Namath isn't a vegan," and "At halftime Ted Nugent is going to shoot Joe Namath's coat."
-- Albert Brooks tweeting about Joe Namath's fur coat on Super Bowl Sunday
"Consider that maybe sometime before their actual performance that rather than use a guitar cord or standard wireless, that in the name of science and for all mankind, Flea courageously had a newly invented breakthrough in microchip technology installed in his ass that picked up the frequencies of his bass and transmitted them to his amplifier. Maybe they all had microchips installed in their asses and not only pick up the frequencies of their instruments but get Direct TV and the Internet, too!"
-- Axl Rose, talking about the Red Hot Chili Peppers Super Bowl half-time performance
The B-Side - 'Blips'
THE ONION (www.theonion.com) STORY OF THE WEEK:
Macklemore Reminds Grammys Audience About CDs Available For Sale In Lobby
LOS ANGELES—Immediately following his performance at the 56th annual Grammy Awards, Seattle-based rapper Macklemore politely reminded audience members at the Staples Center that he had CDs and other merchandise available for purchase in the lobby.
"Make sure to drop by and see us after the show, because we've got CDs, posters, decals, and I think T-shirts, too, if we remembered to bring them," he said. Read the rest and laugh
The Music Industry Past, Present & Future, And The Internet I answer questions on EconTalk
I did an interview about the industry and the Internet at EconTalk with host Russ Roberts. Russ is also a professor of economics at George Mason University, blogs at Cafe Hayek, and has written three novels that teach economics. He's also the co-creator of the Keynes-Hayek rap video. (And if your understanding of the economic meltdown that occurred needs to be enlightened, this video will do it)
In the interview we talk about the evolution of the music industry, the impact of the digital revolution, and I give my reasons for believing in the virtues and potential of the Internet in enhancing the music industry. I point out, as I have many times here in the newsletter, that the internet allows numerous artists to make money from their music and it can enhance revenues from live performances by expanding an artist's base. We also discuss the challenges facing record companies and I suggest that the full potential of the Internet as a distribution channel has yet to be fully exploited. There's a lot of ground covered, but based on the comments already posted of those who have tuned in, they've enjoyed it.
Read more about it by clicking here.
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Smart Marketing Consulting Services has been in business sixteen years, and consults clients in the music, entertainment, attraction, media, and technology industry on branding, marketing, online exploitation, maximizing new media, and more.
"And the beat goes on, the beat goes on ... drums keep poundin' rhythm to the brain."
"Work is life, you know, and without it, there's nothing but fear and insecurity." -- John Lennon